Parking fee plans at War Memorial Park scrapped by Coventry council after backlash - The Coventry Observer

Parking fee plans at War Memorial Park scrapped by Coventry council after backlash

Coventry Editorial 13th Feb, 2024   0

PLANS to introduce car parking charges at Coventry’s War Memorial Park as part of mooted proposals to address the city council’s cash crisis have been scrapped after intense backlash from campaigners.

Over 3,500 people signed a petition calling for the cash-strapped authority not to follow through with proposals to introduce charging for the first three hours of parking at the iconic city park.

This follows an eight-week consultation in which the council sought views on over 30 proposals to either save money or generate more income.

This year’s budget consultation saw a nearly 200 per cent increase in people and organisations taking part.

The Friends of War Memorial Park claimed the plans were ‘counterproductive’ and accused the council of ‘trying to have its cake and eat it.’

Coun Ant Tucker, who has been among those opposing the plans, expressed his delight at the council’s U-turn and said it wouldn’t have been possible without Coventrians’ support.

Council chiefs claim they need to save around £20million to set a balanced budget for the upcoming financial year.

In recent months the authority has warned if this predicament is not addressed by the government, it may have to issue a Section 114, effectively declaring itself bankrupt.

Finance chiefs have also amended its original proposal which will now mean 70 per cent of city streetlights could be turned off overnight, down from 100 per cent.

The draft 2024/25 budget, which will be considered at Tuesday’s full council meeting, also recommends increasing Council Tax levels to 4.99 per cent, a figure in line with most other local authorities.

Councillors are recommended to approve proposals, which includes introducing charges for the collection of garden waste from April and increasing weekday city centre car parking prices – the first rise since 2017.

The council’s finance chief Coun Richard Brown said: “The decisions which needed to be made are tough.

“At a time when years of underfunding for councils is coming home to roost, we have worked incredibly hard to keep those cuts away from our residents as much as we can.

“But the reality is we can only go so far.

“If we don’t get a more sustainable solution from ministers, we will be facing even harder decisions next year.”

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the government recognised councils were facing challenging times.

The provisional local government finance settlement he announced in December makes almost £4billion of funding available for councils in England in 2024 to 2025, a 6.5 per cent increase on this financial year.

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